This Briefcase article began in May with me researching legal decisions on whether lawyers should have smart devices such as those sold by Google and Amazon in their offices because those devices are on listening to every conversation and phone call you have with clients, opposing counsel and others. This could include private confidential information, attorney strategy, HIPAA protected information and private identifier information. Lawyers must be more aware today of protecting and securing this information and their client information than ever before. However, I was sidetracked by multiple items and life.
First, your OCBA executive committee met with 35 past presidents of the OCBA. If you saw the Briefcase last month, you saw the photo. Retired judges, active judges, law firm partners, solo practitioners, law school deans and others gathered because they are interested in supporting and influencing the local Bar and especially young lawyers. Also, free food and cocktails were provided. Many thanks to organizer, Court of Appeals Judge Barbara Swinton, for this resounding success. The exchange of thoughts, ideas and future planning was discussed. Next was the Law Day Luncheon attended by 380 lawyers with awards given for several professional categories and keynote by OU Law Dean, Joe Harroz. Some common threads run through many of these discussions and presentations. Those being a lawyer’s duty to be better and do better things and on the flipside the growing lack of civility on our profession.
Considering that my term as OCBA President begins one and a half years from now, I started to write down some notes and plans from things I heard at these two events. I was next sidelined by a shoulder surgery and related anesthesia reaction that put me in a recliner for an extended period of time. To begin with, we don’t own a recliner. My wife had banned recliners despite my statements about how nice these new man cave game room recliners appeared with built-in massage, heat, USB ports and multiple cup holders. I was also told that people recovering from shoulder surgery had to sleep in recliners. Unfortunately, this was proven to be a true statement. So, we went to my mother-in-law’s house and borrowed a recliner. (note the photo above is of a favorite historical chair belonging to one Archie Bunker). I got as far as writing down notes for a plan and determining some metrics for your current County Bar Board. Here is the rough board make up:
2017-18 Board Stats
30-40 6 19%
40-50 11 36%
50-60 8 26%
60+ 6 19%
Male 21 68%
Female 10 32%
White 25 81%
Of Color 6 19%
Lg. Firm 8 25%
Sm. Firm 12 39%
Judges 7 23%
Gov/Corp 4 13%
Judges from the Ct. of Civil Appeals, Dist. Ct. Judges, and Special Judges
It is pretty incredible to me that in this busy merry-go-round world of practicing law that this Board, this executive committee and 35 past presidents would gather to work out ways to help improve our profession and provide all lawyers, not just young lawyers, with great mentoring, support and a social justice outreach. The current board looks pretty much like the Bar. So, I have less than 2 years to work out the path for how those non-members in our local Bar need to become members. In the meantime, I suspect that Amazon and Google will be replaced by some other thorny client confidence problem that future Briefcase contributors can write op-eds about.
Back to the recliner, which happens to be placed in front of the TV. When you are not totally consumed with practicing law, managing a law firm and writing down your billable time, it’s amazing what is going on in the world. Amazing and tragic at the same time. Significantly, NBA referees are not any better in the conference playoffs’ 6th or 7th games than they were during the season. Then came NBA championship game 1 where they really showed out. I also watched Women’s College Softball. I watched Men’s College Golf. Then there was PGA golf, car racing, a horse race and NCAA Baseball. No MLB for me.
But, I learned that Las Vegas has a hockey team that I didn’t know existed and they are playing for the Stanley Cup. I watched a night of all local television stations following the Lake Hefner restaurant shooting and easily determined that that coverage was worse than any severe thunderstorm or tornado coverage they regularly produce. The news provided coverage of on-again-off-again talks with North Korea, Italy’s economy take the entire global economy down, and I learned that there was a new highly rated Roseanne that was already cancelled. Having not watched Roseanne the first time around, not aware that Roseanne was back, and you can imagine my surprise that ABC’s top-rated show, Roseanne was already cancelled. Then I read her stupid tweet. Apparently, Twitter serves the ultimate purpose of providing an outlet for stupid and shameful comments.
It’s also interesting to be in a recliner in front of the TV during political commercial season. If you ever were concerned about the public’s perception of lawyers, just watch current advertising of politicians who also happen to be attorneys. Suddenly it came to me that if you spent all your time observing the problems and solutions of our culture, society and the world as depicted on TV, you could certainly have a biased perspective that could cause your glass-mostly-empty outlook to be hypercritical of anything positive being advanced. Now understand this bias is evenly split 40-40.
But this television focused worldview comes crashing down when compared to what I had recently witnessed from OCBA lawyer leaders. Then I hit upon it – the reason so many lawyers are willing to volunteer their time and energy to support and energize our profession was obvious. The people who take time to work for the sake of the whole and overall good, find that the fabric of our profession and psychological health of its members (including themselves), is improved. This satisfaction comes when people work for the advancement of civil justice as well as social justice. If your mindset is limited to only your own advancement and doing things solely for the dollar, then you’ll never know that freedom and peace. Basically, you’ve got to get out of the recliner and away from the TV to do some good. Get involved and invite a non-member to get involved. Until then I’m searching through seasons 1-7 of Game of Thrones – “You know nothing, Jon Snow.”
Byline: Michael W. Brewer is an attorney, founder, and partner of Hiltgen & Brewer, PC in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. To contact Mike, email email@example.com, call (405) 605-9000 or tweet him at @attymikeb. For more information, please visit http://www.hbokc.law.